Tag Archives: tablet-pc

Can Hardware Development be Crowdsourced?

Looks like the TechCrunch Tablet (the CrunchPad) is coming along nicely. It’s good to see that they’re giving it a shot, at least!

Even with the wide array of netbooks now available from major vendors, there seems to be a place for the CrunchPad – so long as the hardware is up to snuff. A $300 price point is a good one, but I’d be interested in seeing what kind of bezel design options are made available. Or will they be skinnable right off the line?

Maybe that’s what TechCrunch needs to look into: a Zazzle for hardware. Mind you, not every branded product is made of quality materials, but that’s where quality control is important.

Touch screens are also tricky – and battery life will be important to keep in mind as well. They’re going to have to address a wide array of engineering problems that no other netbook / tablet PC manufacturer has been able to solve.

Scoble applauds the way things came together for TechCrunch, testament to crowdsourcing. Well, I’ll tell you that I believe this effort is the exception – not the rule. Most crowdsourcing efforts – 99.9% of them – fail if key individuals aren’t completely drawn-in or compensated immediately. And the more complex the project, the more likely a crowdsourcing endeavor will FAIL. It’s difficult enough to do with software – but with hardware?!

I’m not saying that crowdsourcing projects is an exercise in folly, but if you’re not TechCrunch, I wouldn’t bank on it.

So, here’s to hoping the CrunchPad will be different – like, notably different beyond its inception and vision. What will make it stand out on a store shelf? What will continue to set it apart? What will make it truly better than the competition – which already does a horrible job playing the differentiation game.

I can honestly say that I remember Michael before TechCrunch was TechCrunch (and Scoble before “blog” was a word, for that matter). It’s good to see these true geeks on top.

Apple Tablet?

My buddy Brendan has some thoughts on tablet computing (disclaimer: AdvertiseHereForever.com sponsors our YouTube videos, and I just purchased a flag on Clickashamrock.com):

No inside info at all here, just an educated guess. As a creative person, I always have ideas.

I think Apple will do a tablet @ or before Macworld 2009, possibly in 2008. I’d be very surprised if it happened as early as Macworld ’08, but I wouldn’t be shocked. And I think it will their genuine attempt to make usable, efficient, ultra-portable “computer” (10″ or 11″ display) that uses only a touch-screen for user-interface interaction. As in, no physical keyboard, no trackpad or no mouse. Like the iPhone, but a full blown computer this time.

The first step to surpassing the mouse and trackpad in my opinion. A new paradigm?

I think this will be about; no compromises, and about inventing a new way to have “a true computer experience” in a touch form. Files, folders, desktop etc. All menus and the menubar etc. would be finger-sized.

I think the solution to making this product “valid” is to make it as slim and as light as possible, and to provide some type of pop-out stand on the back that enables this device to rest at about 20ยบ on a flat surface, for typing and looking at the screen at the same time, but which when popped back in would be flush and virtually invisible. Press it in to pop it out. Press it in to pop it back in. Just like a lid on one of those touch bins.

Carry it around, use it on the couch, use it in class, use it everywhere! And then when you want to type an email, a note, an article or something large, you pop out the stand and type away on a table, a tray, a desk etc.

This device would come with a dock, could be used as a digital picture frame, and would be aimed at desktop users, or people who owned just a notebook as their only computer. It would be designed from the start to be your second computer, and would sync with your main one – as it wouldn’t have its own optical drive for repairs or maintenance of the OS. And the price of flash storage, which it would have, provides other limitations. The tag-line could be; “Take some work with you”.

Glass screen, iSight, chrome trim, silver aluminum back, pop-out stand, very very light, thin and portable (much more so than any notebook). Possibly with two, subtle, rubber (light-gray) hand-grips on its rear for easier holding, great wifi reception (hides antennas) and protection from scratches when resting on a desk.

That’s what I believe The dock and stack(s) are just begging to be touched.

HP Pavilion tx1000 Entertainment Notebook PC

It’s not very often that hardware manufacturers send us hardware to review (largely because we don’t ask for it). Since AMD is a reigning sponsor for our programming, they connected us with someone over at HP to lend us a tx1000 – which we’ll have to send back in a few weeks. Still, this was our first true “Tablet PC” – even after using UMPCs at our wedding.

Well, instead of giving ‘er a typical geeky review – I let Ponzi play with it for a bit. She’s anything but a geek, but she loves to bring technology into the home (specifically, her kitchen). So, here’s the phone call between a product developer, public relations coordinator, Ponzi, and myself. I have a few complaints about the product, but some issues are largely held against every PC OEM. Oh, and here’s what we were laughing about towards the end of the discussion:

When Perspective Correction Stands Uncorrected

A Tablet PC Wedding

A few weeks ago, Ponzi suggested that we could read our marriage vows from our respective laptops during the ceremony. I was amazed that she would suggest such a thing, but it just goes to show you that she really understands me (and respects my unhealthy fascination with technology). We have a couple of relatively unsexy Thinkpad’s, and they’re not quite lightweight.

I asked a few Tablet PC enthusiasts for suggestions, having never owned a Tablet PC – or never really needing to own one. James Kendrick pointed me in the direction of TabletKiosk. A UMPC would certainly fit the bill, and two eo UMPC v7110 256/40 (white) units were soon en route to our new home address – and Ponzi was none the wiser. Feel free to watch James’s review of the hardware if you wanna know more about it.

The Ultra-Mobile PCs arrived on Thursday, and I quickly unboxed them as if it was early Christmas morning. During the wedding rehearsal, I surprised Ponzi and the wedding party by unveiling them. Ponzi joked: “Is this my wedding present!?” We had mutually agreed to skip the spousal gifts, so I figured a twin set of UMPCs was a decent compromise.

Per my dad’s suggestion, I printed a copy of our vows (and taped them to the back of each computer) – just in case something went haywire. I thought I had covered all my bases – coping the vows to each UMPC, charging the battery, shutting down all unnecessary services, etc. What I didn’t do, however, is tweak the power management settings.

The two boys (Patrick Scoble and Lane Lawley) approached the chupa and I read my vows first. Of course, I can’t wait to get everybody an audio/video copy of this part of our ceremony – a photo simply doesn’t give you the full story. Immediately after I finished, Ponzi read her vows – and as she was just about to finish, the UMPC suspended itself! Ponzi said that Windows crashed, the audience exploded in laughter, and I quickly flipped her tablet around so that she could refer to the printed copy.

It was fun to do, and I think our friends and family got a kick out of it, too. Several people wanted to know more about the TabletKiosk systems – for good reason. They’re sexy, compact, and perfect for this kind of event.

As much as it pains me to say it, one of our wedding tablets was (likely) stolen from the venue later that night. We established a crime timeframe, and security tapes were analyzed. Ponzi and I have been invited back to Harbor Club Bellevue to review the potentially incriminating footage – as the suspects are not employees. As you can imagine, I’m completely unnerved. I really, really don’t want to see who did it – and I’d ask that if you know anything about this situation, you come forward sooner rather than later.

Woot Isn't Always Worth a w00t

A friend of mine pointed out that Woot was running a special today on the Gateway M275 Tablet PC – for $599. In my humble opinion, this isn’t much of a bargain. I’d probably buy one at $199, but at $599 I’d just as soon put an additional $400 into it for a truly better Tablet PC experience.

You’d be better off spending $400 more ($999 total) for a basic Gateway CX210S – better processor, better power consumption, better RAM modules, slightly better screen resolution, likely faster hard drive, twice as much disk space, and it’s Vista Capable (Vista Ready with a memory upgrade to 1GB, whereas the M275 isn’t even listed as Vista Capable).

If you have $599 to spend on a Tablet PC, you have $999 – and at $999, your experience with the Tablet PC is going to be far better (from everything I’ve heard – not ever having owned one). Understand that Windows Vista is going to bring with it a lot of tablet-specific hooks. If a machine isn’t even Vista Capable today, I wouldn’t spend more than a couple hundred on it.

Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors changed “everything” – and I can’t wait to have one in my next laptop.